The gunman who killed 22 people in the worst mass shooting in Canadian history may have been an informant or agent for the national police force, sources say.
New video obtained by news magazine Maclean’s allegedly shows Gabriel Wortman, 51, withdrawing $475,000 in cash from a Brink’s office a few weeks before his deadly 13-hour rampage across several small towns in Nova Scotia in April.
Law enforcement sources say that the massive withdrawal matched the method the Royal Canadian Mounted Police uses to send money to confidential informants and agents – and would not have been possible for a regular citizen.
The RCMP has repeatedly insisted that it had no ‘special relationship’ with Wortman, who was killed by police following the attack.
But some have expressed distrust of the agency, arguing that it could be hiding ties to the gunman to avoid accusations that it mishandled the case.
The speculation comes as authorities are reportedly investigating Wortman’s relationships with people linked to organized crime.
Surveillance video captured Gabriel Wortman, 51, withdrawing $475,000 from a Brink’s office in Nova Scotia on March 30 – 19 days before he killed 22 people in the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. The unusual withdrawal has sparked speculation that Wortman may have been an informant or agent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police force
The RCMP has repeatedly insisted that it had no ‘special relationship’ with Wortman, who was killed by police following the attack. RCMP investigators are pictured on April 23 at the scene where Wortman shot and killed one of his victims with an unlicensed weapon
On the night of April 18, Wortman used accelerants to light fires in five Nova Scotia communities and shot people with four semi-automatic weapons that he wasn’t licensed to own as he drove around in a replica police car.
Thirteen of the victims were killed by gunfire and nine died in fires, police said.
The rampage allegedly began after Wortman assaulted his girlfriend, who fled into the woods and hid for several hours.
Investigators said the assault could have been the catalyst for the killing spree, but that they are not ruling out that the massacre could have been pre-planned as Wortman had disputes with several of his victims.
A court document released last month described how Wortman (pictured) had a history of paranoid behavior and had stockpiled guns and gasoline before the rampage on April 18
The RCMP has faced fierce criticism over their handling of the case after admitting that they failed to issue a timely public alert about the gunman, who evaded capture for hours after the first 911 call came in.
A court document released last month outlined warning signs apparently ignored by police, including Wortman’s history of paranoid behavior and his stockpile of guns and gasoline.
One witness described the now dead gunman as an abusive ‘sociopath’ who kept a rifle by the fireplace that was described as ‘like a machine gun’.
A former colleague told officers that Wortman was ‘paranoid’ about the COVID-19 pandemic and has recently suffered a ‘mental breakdown’.
Wortman had also been the subject of several complaints about illegal guns and an assault on his girlfriend.
It’s now been suggested that the RCMP may have failed to take action on those complaints because he was working as an informant or agent for the force.
That theory is centered around the claim that Wortman withdrew $475,000 in cash from a Brink’s office in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on March 30 – 19 days before the massacre.
The withdrawal was captured on two videos provided to Maclean’s by an anonymous police source close to the investigation.
In the first video Wortman is seen pulling into the fenced yard of the security facility in what appears to be a decommissioned police cruiser.
The second video, shot inside the office, shows Wortman dressed in a baseball cap and leather jacket as he makes the withdrawal.
He then brings a suitcase, purportedly filled with hundred-dollar bills, outside and stashes it in the trunk of his car.
The police source said the money was transferred to Brink’s from CIBC Intria, a subsidiary of the chartered bank that handles currency transactions.
Video obtained by news magazine Maclean’s shows Wortman arriving at a Brink’s security facility on March 30 in what appears to be one of his decommissioned police cruisers
Wortman exited the facility minutes later with a duffel bag purportedly filled with hundred-dollar bills. Bank and law enforcement sources have said that the massive withdrawal matched the method the Royal Canadian Mounted Police uses to send money to confidential informants and agents – and would not have been possible for a regular citizen
It remains unclear how and why Wortman, a dentist, acquired such a large quantity of cash.
While he ran his own dentistry practice, there is no reason to believe that it would have required him to handle large sums of cash, according to Maclean’s.
Court records show Wortman also owned a New Brunswick-registered company called Berkshire-Broman. The purpose of that company is unclear, but there is no evidence that it would have been able to move large sums of cash.
A Mountie familiar with RCMP undercover operations said that even if the money did come from one of Wortman’s accounts, he would not have been able to collect it from Brink’s as a private citizen.
‘There’s no way a civilian can just make an arrangement like that,’ he told Maclean’s, noting that the transaction is consistent with how the RCMP pays its agents and informants.
‘I’ve worked a number of CI cases over the years and that’s how things go. All the payments are made in cash.
‘To me that transaction alone proves he has a secret relationship with the force.’
Another Mountie who has also been involved with CI operations shared the same suspicion, calling the withdrawal ‘tradecraft’.
The second Mountie said that the RCMP goes through CIBC Intria to avoid ‘typical banking scrutiny’ because there are no holds placed on the money.
‘That’s what we do when we need flash money for a buy,’ they said.
‘We don’t keep stashes of money around the office. When we suddenly need a large sum of money to make a buy or something, that’s the route we take.
‘I think [with the Brink’s transaction] you’ve proved with that single fact that he had a relationship with the police. He was either a CI or an agent.’
A third police source said that RCMP only uses Brink’s to pay agent sources, not CIs.
It remains unclear how and why Wortman, a dentist, acquired such a large quantity of cash. While he ran his own practice – the Atlantic Denture Clinic in Dartmouth (pictured) – there is no reason to believe that it would have required him to handle large sums of cash
An undated handout photo from the RCMP shows a replica police vehicle allegedly used by Wortman during his 13-hour rampage in April
A Canadian retail banking expert, who spoke to Maclean’s on condition of anonymity, said it’s unlikely that the money Wortman collected came from his own savings account, due to how that kind of transaction is typically handled.
‘When you come into my branch and you want a ton of cash, then I say, you gotta give us a couple of days,’ the expert explained.
‘We put in our Brink’s order, I order the money through Brink’s, then when the money arrives, you come back into the branch, I bring you into a back room and I count the money out for you.
‘Sending someone to Brink’s to get the money? I’ve never heard of that before.’
They continued: ‘The reason is, if I’m the banker, and you’ve deposited your savings in my bank branch, I’m responsible for making sure the money goes to the right person.
‘If you want this money, I’m going to verify your identity and document that. I can’t do that if I’m transferring the money to Brink’s.’
The banking expert said that the RCMP could avoid unwanted attention by transferring money to agents or informants through Brink’s instead of a bank.
‘You can imagine that if someone comes in with large sums of cash, that stuff is not kept quiet. You don’t want that,’ they said.
‘Maybe what the RCMP was doing is they thought they could keep things quieter simply by transferring funds via Brink’s.’
CIBC declined to comment on the transaction when approached by Maclean’s.
‘Our hearts and thoughts are with the families and the entire community as they deal with this senseless tragedy and loss. Unfortunately we are not able to comment on specific client matters,’ a CIBC spokesperson said.
Brink’s did not respond to the outlet’s inquiry about the transaction.
Some critics have suggested that the RCMP could be hiding its ties to Wortman (pictured at his dental practice) to avoid accusations that it mishandled the case
Authorities said the violence began on the night of April 18 in Portapique, where officers were alerted to shots fired around 10.26pm. Wortman managed to evade police throughout the night and into Sunday morning. Police first revealed that they had an ‘active shooter’ situation around 8am in Portapique. The violence ended 13 hours later in Enfield
Nova Scotia RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell attempted to stamp out speculation about links between Wortman and the agency during a news conference on June 4.
‘The gunman was never associated to the RCMP as a volunteer or auxiliary police officer, nor did the RCMP ever have any special relationship with the gunman of any kind,’ Campbell said.
However, the RCMP Operations Manual authorizes agency officials to conceal the identity of informants and agents unless they are dealing with the courts.
‘The identity of a source must be protected at all times except when the administration of justice requires otherwise, i.e. a member cannot mislead a court in any proceeding in order to protect a source,’ the manual states.
The RCMP declined to comment on the report about Wortman’s financial transaction.
‘This is still an active, ongoing investigation,’ Cpl Jennifer Clarke, spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia RCMP, told Maclean’s last week.
‘All investigative avenues and possibilities continue to be explored, analyzed, and processed with due diligence. This is to ensure that the integrity of the investigation is not compromised. We cannot release anything more related to your questions.’
RCMP’s media relations office did say Campbell’s statement that the force never had a ‘special relationship’ with Wortman ‘still stands’.
Current and former RCMP officials have shared different opinions over the possibility that Wortman worked for the agency.
One former investigator questioned why Wortman would have turned against an agency that was paying him so much.
‘What seems inconsistent to me is why are you going to bite the hand that feeds you? If he’s getting money, and that’s a lot of money for an agent, or a CI, that part doesn’t make sense to me,’ they said.
That source also noted that if Wortman was working for the RCMP, he would eventually be expected to testify in court.
‘If he was an agent, he should show up on a witness docket,’ they said.
Another officer said of Wortman: ‘This guy always wanted to be a Mountie. He was acting like a Mountie. He was doing Mountie things. It’s clear to me that something went wrong.’
Firefighters are seen spraying down vehicles torched by Wortman during his rampage
A couple visits a memorial in Portapique days after Wortman killed 22 people in the worst mass shooting in Canadian history
Last week Maclean’s reported that authorities were looking into Wortman’s potential involvement in organized crime – including his relationships with Hells Angels motorcycle gang members and with a convicted felon involved with the La Familia cartel in Mexico.
Wortman’s neighbor, Peter Alan Griffon, recently finished serving part of a seven-year sentence for drug and firearm offenses linked to La Familia.
Sources said Griffon printed the decals on the replica RCMP cruiser Wortman used in his rampage.
The RCMP is facing mounting criticism over the length of the investigation into the shooting as many, including relatives of the victims, have called for a federal inquiry.
Nova Scotia Attorney General Mark Furey, a former RCMP staff sergeant, has said that the province is in talks with Ottawa about a joint federal-provincial review of the rampage.